Cameroon – My Life Has Forever Changed
The other night, a friend asked me about my trips to Cameroon. His eyes were huge with excitement as he asked to see pictures. He said, “I want you to take me there. By the time you finish telling me about it and showing me the pictures, I want to feel like I just came back.” So many have asked about my trips and I say they were amazing and life-changing, but I don’t think I’ve adequately shared my experience in Cameroon.
On the first trip, my dad almost died while I was gone so I cut my trip short and obviously didn’t have time to blog when I got back. When I returned from the second trip, he went back into the hospital for surgery to fix everything that had gone wrong during the summer. So I never really got to share. I’m gonna go back and try to recreate as much as I can with pictures and videos and stories.
A little background. I first met my “Cameroonian daughter” – Genevieve Souma – by email. Mimi (as she’s called) had read my book, Dance Into Destiny, and sent me one of the sweetest, most heartfelt messages I think I’ve ever gotten from any reader – and I’ve gotten some great ones. We started emailing back and forth about our dreams and destinies and she told me a lot about her youth group, Youth Aglow, that the youth group in Dance Into Destiny reminded her of. We ended up chatting on a regular basis on Facebook and developed one of those divine connections that only God Himself can set up. She sent me copies of Youth Aglow’s music CD and music video (YA Squad) and I realized we had similar interests in expressing the Kingdom through music and the arts.
Soon, I began waking up at crazy hours, praying for Cameroon and for Youth Aglow. For some strange reason, I wanted to visit. When I told Mimi about it, she admitted that she and her youth group were praying that I would come over for their 7th anniversary celebration. I agreed to visit on the condition that they stop praying so I could get some sleep. I’ve come to learn since then that when these kids pray, heaven moves. But more of that later…
I ended up going to Cameroon for the first time in July 2009. In retrospect, it’s one of the craziest things I’ve EVER done – getting on a plane – by myself – to go to Africa to meet someone I met online. On the way to the airport, my mom said she’d been unable to find anything about Youth Aglow online. She expressed her fears about it being a scam and me being kidnapped. Needless to say, that made my 24+ hours of travel a little scary. I ended up praying silly prayers like, “God if this is a scam and they’re gonna kidnap me, then let the flight from Switzerland be cancelled.” As if God would let me go to Africa and get kidnapped.
When I arrived in Douala, the airport was overwhelming. People were speaking in French and everyone was trying to sell me something. I hate the airport in Cameroon. The so-called porters try to scam you for money to get your bags through customs. When they hear the American accent, you can see the dollar signs in their eyes. In the midst of my angst, I heard my name being called. I looked up and saw the cocoa brown face from the computer screen from my facebook chats smiling down at me and instantly felt reassured that this was a destiny journey and that God was in control.
On our long bumpy 2 hour trip from Doula to Cameroon, Mimi gave me a tour and history lesson. The trip was a little hairy as we traveled over potholes the size of craters and had to avoid killing several “kamikaze” motorcyclists. Mimi explained that the motorcycles serve as taxis but they drive so crazy that not a week goes by where someone isn’t killed in an accident. We finally got out of the city onto the pitch black quiet road and I still wondered what lay ahead on my trip.
When I arrived in Buea, Cameroon, I was greeted by a beautiful group of young people crowded into Mimi’s living room. It was dimly lit and it was explained to me that they were experiencing, “low voltage” where they electricity levels in the city were low. I could hardly see the eager faces smiling back at me. Some of the leaders spoke about Youth Aglow and how grateful they were for my visit, and then the group sang a song that brought tears to my eyes. Then we enjoyed an awesome welcome feast they had prepared for me. They explained each dish and the only thing I recognized was the boiled plantains (I am a lover of Jamaican food – well all things Jamaican!) As we ate, I shared with them a little bit about my life’s journey and how I was pressing into purpose and destiny. I got to share with them as a group and then had some more intimate conversations with my new friends. As we talked that first evening, I knew God had divinely connected us and that something very special was about to happen. It was amazing how it felt like I had stepped into the pages of my book, Dance Into Destiny – Cameroonian style.
You can check out photos of me and my kids on Facebook. Add me as a friend!
Next up – my first trip to the bathroom and the shower. Promise not to laugh!!!